Tropical Creatures, Painterly Prints, and Graphic Patterns Abound in the Proenza Schouler x Le Bon Marché Capsule Collection
In addition to really fashion-forward clothes, New York-based brand Proenza Schouler has earned a reputation for esoteric, almost surreal advertising campaigns — a two-page magazine ad, for instance, might incorporate a slightly overexposed and out-of-focus photograph of a model donning a Proenza ensemble and, opposite this image, a page will feature an image of an abstract pattern with strong graphic lines, muddled colors, or bold geometric patterns that, somehow, subtly correlate to the backdrop of the photo featuring the model or maybe even the color scheme of her ensemble. Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez’s appreciation for the eccentric, their understanding of fashion as fantasy, and their ability to craft garments that are decidedly urban and modern but somehow also epitomize traditional notions of refinement have helped to make Proenza Schouler a fashion world darling. In the past, they’ve found inspiration in everything from interior designers and architects like Joe Colombo and Paul Rudolph to Tahitian surf culture, an installation of ceramist Ron Nagle’s work at the Venice Biennale, and a trip through the American Southwest. Their latest endeavor, a collaboration with high-end Parisian department store Le Bon Marché, finds Hernandez and McCullough exploring geometric patterns and quirky tropical motifs reminiscent of Proenza Schouler’s Spring 2010 RTW collection.
On the one hand, there’s a plethora of colorful, painterly, Amazon-worthy creatures like parrots and toucans printed atop large canvas totes and zippered pouches. The Proenza Schouler x Le Bon Marché Canvas Tote ($595 at ProenzaSchouler.com) — shown first, second and third above — comes in three prints: a rainforest-inspired print with a toucan perched atop a branch and a red parrot peaking out along the tote’s bottom ridge, unfurling one of its wings so that it appears to graze the tip of the toucan’s beak; a fish print bedazzled with blue rhinestones (which, to me, is oddly reminiscent of a gecko’s head); and a text print, with letters that look as if they had been haphazardly smeared or finger painted on canvas. All three prints have an artful quality to it , particularly the two tropical motifs— as if they had been spray painted meticulously or rendered with acrylic pencils. Made in Italy, each tote measures 15.25″ in length, 15.5″ in height, and 5.5″ in width, and boasts two black leather handles with an 8″-long drop.
These prints appear again on the Proenza Schouler x Le Bon Marché Medium Zip Pouch ($165 at ProenzaSchouler.com), an envelope-shaped canvas bag measuring 11.75″ in length and 8″ in height and featuring a leather panel along the back and a top zip closure with a metal zip pull.Pictured last above, the pouch is available in three prints: Fish, Toucan, and Parrot. The Fish and Toucan prints are virtually identical to those seen on the larger canvas tote (albeit the toucan print on the pouch zooms in on this particular bird), but the Parrot print is strikingly different. In fact, this red bird, with its curved white beak, has been relocated to an urban environment, so that it’s shown landing on the rim of a metal garbage can, a ferry traversing the river behind it, and, in the distance, the New York City skyline.
The text print, meanwhile, reappears on the Proenza Schouler x Le Bon Marché PS1 Wallet ($165 at ProenzaSchouler.com), pictured seventh above, which is also made of printed canvas and features leather piping and two decorative leather straps in punchy shades like sherbet orange, turquoise blue, Lemonhead yellow, and a magenta-tinged purple. Made in Italy, these wallets feature a hidden snap closure, an interior compartment, and a back slit pocket. Most importantly, the text print creates a playful feel reminiscent of Alphabet Soup commercials.
Moving on to garments, this capsule collection includes several unisex T-shirts and sweaters. One strikingly cool piece is the Unisex T-Shirt ($164 at ProenzaSchouler.com) pictured ninth above, a short-sleeved crewneck cotton jersey T-shirt with black sleeves, a black collar, and a three-dimensional graphic print along the front consisting of two-toned squares, each block-like shape divided into two triangular parts by a diagonal line, with the top half a white hue and the bottom half a black one. The Merino Crewneck Sweaters ($645 at ProenzaSchouler.com) in the collection — shown fourth, fifth, and sixth above — breathe new life into the classic striped pattern by mushing together lines of different widths, so that the top half of each sweater features thinner horizontal stripes while the lowre half boasts wider bands of color. Similarly, each half features a different color combination, so that a black-and-white pattern might be allotted to the thinner stripes and a kelly green and light jade pairing might be chosen for the wider stripes.
Accessories like scarves and hats can also be found in the collection. Particularly chic is the Proenza Schouler x Le Bon Marché Baseball Hat ($85 at ProenzaSchouler.com), which features triangle patches all along the front, above the brim.